Tag Archive - bible study

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Why Volunteering is the Biggest Issue Facing the Church

I’ve never coached a church leader or consulted with a church that said they had enough volunteers. In fact, most church leaders I speak with identify a shortage of volunteers and volunteer leaders as one of the top 5 issues holding their church back from reaching the vision that Jesus has given them. But contrary to the popular belief among many church staff, the issue isn’t a poor talent pool. Your church is full of talented volunteers. In fact the people who attend your church are so talented that companies actually hire them to do jobs everyday and they actually get paid for it (sarcasm indented). The real issue is that the church needs to change the scorecard. We need to shift the focus of paid-staff from ministry production and execution to volunteer and leadership development. The churches that do this understand the following 5 principles and the incredible results that accompany applying them.

1. Volunteering makes your Church “Sticky”

Want to figure out how to close the proverbial backdoor of your church and keep people from “leaving?” Then get people volunteering. People come to church for all kinds of reasons. But the top two reasons people stay at a church are “relationships” and “responsibility.” Volunteering checks both of those boxes!

2. Volunteering is a Pathway to Small Groups

Most churches used to buy into linear thinking that says people come to church, then get into a small group and then start volunteering. That’s actually backwards. It’s way less threatening to volunteer and serve than it is to jump into a small group bible study at some strangers’ house with a bunch of other strangers. And guess what happens as people volunteer? They begin to develop friendships with other people they’re volunteering with and then get into small group bible studies with friends instead of strangers.

3. Volunteers are more Generous

It’s negligent of me not to point this simple fact out. That is, people who volunteer are more likely to be generous financially towards your church. The fact that they are volunteering means they’re with you and on some level buy into the vision of where you’re going as a church because they’re wiling to put their time towards it. Jesus said it this way, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

4. Volunteering is Discipleship

I’ve written previously that many churches still view volunteering as roles that need to be filled instead of people that need to be developed. Most churches are missing the boat on this simple fact: that people grow spiritually through volunteering and tangibly learning to live an others oriented life. The first Sunday School Class I taught, the first Mission Trip I went on…etc. I grew and gained far more than I ever gave.

5. Volunteering is the Biblical Mandate for the Church

“Volunteer Development” can be described as the two-word long job description of every staff person who receives a paycheck at a church. The Apostle Paul put it this way…”And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

 


Posted in Volunteers

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How to Convice Your Sr. Pastor to Join a Small Group

One of the most common points of frustration I hear from church leaders around the country is, “My Senior Pastor wants Small Groups to be a big deal at our church, but they won’t be in a Small Group themselves.” And the natural follow up question that’s asked right after that statement, “How do I get my Senior Pastor to be in a Small Group?” In an attempt to answer that question, here are a couple of steps you can take to help convince your Sr. Pastor that they need to be in a Small Group.

#1 Have a Plan

Don’t pester or nag your Sr. Pastor, this won’t get you anywhere. Come up with a clear plan, presentation, or pitch. Get on their calendar (schedule an appointment) and walk into that meeting with a plan. Don’t take more than 30 minutes. If you can’t cover it in 30 minutes, you’re not ready to cover it at all.

#2 Moral Authority

“Join Me” is always a better motivator than “You Should.” Help your Sr. Pastor understand that people in the church will more readily follow their example than their prescription. If the Sr. Pastor wants to have a church of Small Groups then they need to be in one. The church will always end up taking on the personality of the Sr. Leader.

#3 Let them Hand Pick the Group

Many Sr. Pastors are truly fearful of being vulnerable, and many of them are fearful for good reason. At the first sign of a crack in the armor or that they’re actually human many churchgoers call foul. So let them hand pick their group that they’re going to be in so they feel safe.

#4 Try Before You Buy

Challenge them to try it for one semester (the start of the school year to Christmas break or January to the end of the school year). At the end of that semester if they still think it’s a waste of time, no worries. At least they’ll have first-hand experience to be able to speak about it in a personal manner.

#5 Give them Good Reasons to Join a Group

There is a whole list of good reasons your Sr. Pastor should be in a Small Group. Make a list and talk to them about it. Here are a few examples:

  • They’ll grow in their relationship with Jesus (life change happens best in circles not rows)
  • They’ll make new friends that will care and encourage them (What Sr. Pastor couldn’t use more of that?)
  • It gives them moral authority (see point #2 above) and hence leadership credits with the church as a whole – it makes them a better leader
  • It’s something they can do with their spouse (score more brownie points)
  • Tell them they don’t have to lead it…just participate in it (you’re not adding more work for them to do)
  • It provides a personal accountability structure (it’s easier to stand for Jesus when you’re standing with friends)
  • Heck, Jesus was in a “Small Group” right? (Think the 12 Disciples)
  • You can probably think of more…but this should get you started

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Why the Church Wins When the Church Staff are in a Small Group

I talk to church leaders all the time who bring up how lonely they feel in leadership. My response? You’re as lonely as you want to be. Yes, relationships are risky. Any time you entrust your heart with others there’s a chance that it won’t be handled well. And I understand that church leaders often feel pressure to perform and live up to unrealistic expectations of perfection. But if the church staff chooses to shrink back from vulnerability and authenticity in relationship with others then you’ll build a culture of superficial pretending in your church. That’s why when the church staff takes the risk and jumps into a small group bible study the whole church wins!

Moral Authority

It’s hard to say, “Do as I say, and not as I do.” It doesn’t work in parenting and it doesn’t work in leadership. In fact it erodes trust, and trust is the fuel that leadership runs on. Being in a group provides church leadership the moral standing to make the ask for everyone else to do the same.

Culture

The church always takes on the culture of the staff. If you want to build a culture of groups in your church it starts with the staff.

Personal Growth

Just because your church staff are professional Christians doesn’t mean they’re done growing (at least I hope not). Spiritual growth always happens best in circles not rows and in the context of meaningful relationships.

Accountability

The bottom line is bad things happen when we live in isolation from others. All of us need the natural built in accountability that comes through the relationships that are found in small groups.

 


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation